Author Topic: The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31  (Read 530 times)

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Offline Silent Disapproval Robot

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The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31
« on: May 17, 2018, 08:27:52 PM »
This was on sale from CSI a few weeks ago so I threw it in my cart along with some other stuff just to push my total into the free shipping category.

It's a hidden traitor style game for 4 to 8 players based on the 80s John Carpenter movie with Kurt Russel and Wilford F*$king Brimley.  Players select characters from the film.  The characters are divided into three specialization categories (can't remember what they're called offhand.  Science, Ops, and the other one) and players have to choose in such a way that the mix between the three specializations is as close to even as possible.  Then players draw blood sample cards and inspect them in secret in order to determine which player or players are imitations and which are humans. 

Once the setup is done, gameplay starts.  Players take turns acting as the leader (called a captain in this game) and then draw a mission card which will either have an event (power outage, fire, or smoke) or a mission which will require a certain number of players to form a group, head out into the complex, and try to meet whatever objective is listed on the mission card.  The captain selects which other players will accompany him on the mission (each mission card has a mini/max player allowed count and may require a certain number of characters from one or specialties).

Each player selects a card from their hand of five and hands it facedown to the captain who then shuffles all the cards together and then examines them.  If any player handed in a sabotage card, that must be resolved by the captain or the mission automatically fails and bad things happen (room gets destroyed, power goes out, fire spreads, etc).  If there are no sabotage cards, the captain can see if he's got the requirements to achieve the mission.  If not, he can discard one card (facedown) and draw a new one from the deck.  Each player character has a special ability which can only be used when playing the captain roll so the captain may be able to alter the mission outcome with said ability.  If the mission is successful, the group turns over the chit in the room which will provide either some useful gear or a Thing which the group will then have to fight.  Fighting works much like missions in that each player in the group gives a card to the captain.  Each card has a dice value attached to it (0 to 3) and the captain then needs to assemble a dice pool and use it to roll a 3 of a kind.  He gets a certain number of re-rolls depending on the location.  First map section has the weakest thing, represented by the mutated dog, second has the spider-head thing, and the third the human-tentacle hybrid.

The game progresses through a series of 3 stages, each of which unlocks more of the map but also exposes the group to more powerful versions of the Thing.  Also, once each new stage is opened up, players draw blood sample cards again and more players may become infected.  Play progresses until either the humans escape the base via helicopter or the base is destroyed.  If the humans manage to escape without an imitation on board the helicopter, they win otherwise the Things do.

I'm a bit disappointed with this one.  I loved the film so I was hoping for more theme here but there just isn't that much.  The production values are good  (There's a god-damned Wilford Brimley miniature) although I think the map artwork is too minimalist for my tastes but the gameplay is too light.  The mission cards just aren't that interesting because they're devoid of any flavour and the mission success parameters are completely arbitrary  (gather a fire axe and two petri dishes from other players).  It would have added a lot to the game if these missions were a little more involved and with some thematic goals and flavour text. 

The game says it's for 4-8 players but it doesn't scale properly.  The 4 player game just doesn't work very well.  You construct a mission deck based on the player count by removing mission cards that require more characters than there are players.  In the 4 player game, that means all missions will require all 4 players to form a group every time.  (In a 6 player game, if you draw a card requiring only 4 characters, you can force two people to sit out of the mission and go fight fires instead).  This means the group is required to bring the Thing along every mission and it's far too easy to the Thing player to foil every mission, causing the humans to lose.

Also, using the rules as written, it's far too easy to ferret out who the imitation is and just keep them from joining any missions.  The captain is allowed to ask each player what card they put into the deck so it doesn't take long to suss out the imitations.  We quickly house-ruled some changes and made it a bit more like Battlestar Galactica, limiting players to saying whether they could add a helpful card or not.  That seemed to add more uncertainty.

Too bad.  There are some good ideas in there.  Just needed to be fleshed out a bit more.



« Last Edit: July 26, 2018, 05:48:47 PM by Silent Disapproval Robot »


Offline Nefaro

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Re: The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2018, 02:09:47 AM »
Thanks for the review.

Wasn't there an old indie print & play group game with the same theme?  One that got a little buzz in the past?  Although I could have the theme mistaken for a different one.

Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2018, 06:27:33 AM »
I am a huge fan of the John Carpenter re-make and have seen the movie more times than I can count (just re-watched it again about a month ago, in fact). The newer Thing movie (the prequel) wasn't the greatest thing but it grew on me and I've seen it a handful of times.

I've had my eye on this game but as it's a "party game" (e.g. need a lot of people to really make it fun), there's no way I could have it in my collection, at least not right now. Thanks for the write-up.

Offline mirth

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Re: The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2018, 06:34:20 AM »
I've had my eye on this game but as it's a "party game" (e.g. need a lot of people to really make it fun), there's no way I could have it in my collection, at least not right now.

You need a few more split personalities.
"45 minutes of pooping Tribbles being juggled by a drunken Horta would be better than Season 1 of TNG." - SirAndrewD

"you don't look at the mantelpiece when you're poking the fire" - Bawb

"Can’t ‘un’ until you ‘pre’, son." - Gus

Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2018, 06:34:38 AM »
Batman might agree with that one.

Offline mirth

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Re: The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2018, 06:35:04 AM »
lmao
"45 minutes of pooping Tribbles being juggled by a drunken Horta would be better than Season 1 of TNG." - SirAndrewD

"you don't look at the mantelpiece when you're poking the fire" - Bawb

"Can’t ‘un’ until you ‘pre’, son." - Gus

Offline Silent Disapproval Robot

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Re: The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2018, 05:38:40 PM »
Tried it out again last night with 7 players and it confirmed my previous take.  It's OK but it could have been so much better with a bit more depth, theme, and chrome.

In the 7 player game, up to 3 players can become things.  One player starts out as a Thing and each time play progresses through the 2nd and 3rd stage, new identity cards get passed out face down.  Five indicate human and two indicate Things.  If you were previously playing as a human and drew a Thing card, you've been taken over and now play as a Thing.  This feels too random to me.  I would have preferred a method whereby the player who controls the Thing would have to complete certain objectives to allow him or her to seed the deck.  More successes would entail more risk of being discovered but also allow the player to add more infected cards into the draw pile.  The Thing player could play it safe and not add any new cards in or gamble big and add 2 or 3.  I think this would be a lot more interesting than just a random draw and add a lot more player agency.  As it was, the Thing players were able to win right at the end but they did so by being entirely passive and the human players ended up whiffing on a die roll.

I ended putting this one and Black Orchestra up for sale on various sites today.


Offline Nefaro

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Re: The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2018, 08:59:36 PM »
Wilford Brimley says, "Buy Quaker Oats.  So ya don't git the diabeetus." 




Also, "How long were you alone with that dog?"